NOTE: Photos that appear to the right in the desk top version will be found at the end on smart phones.
September 9, 2017
R.I.P. Don Williams. Riverrock shared the same manager, Jim Halsey, back in the late 1970s. The weeks we performed on the Tulsa International Country Music Festival and during Roy Clark's Celebrity Golf Classic in 1977, we met so many recording artists, TV stars and movie stars, we still keep remembering moments that weren't shared with each other all these years later.
July 31, 2017
Riverrock returns for their annual Knuckleheads party on Sunday, September 3 with a first time ever lineup of Riverrock, Neon Blue and Shag Mahoney, plus the return of Riverrock veteran, Rick Harrelson. Three bands, three distinctive styles of music, one rhythm section. Shag Mahoney will kick things off with with a variety of classic rock, blues and a sprinkle of country. Then the Neon Blue horn section of Brian Macdonald and Joe Miquelon takes the stage for a set of rock & soul music. Finally, Riverrock performs two long sets of Americana, bluegrass, classic country, oldies rock & roll and original music that will feature the Midwest Man himself, Rick Harrelson. Showtime is 7:30 PM.
May 3, 2017
Summer is almost here! Riverrock only has a few dates on the calendar (so far), but we hope everyone checks the Schedule page frequently to see what we are up to. Everybody in the band is busy with assorted projects. In particular, Allen, John and Dan are working together in Neon Blue (rock & soul) and Shag Mahoney (power rock trio). For those of you who are on the Riverrock mailing list, we will keep you informed of all three of those bands' bookings. We recommend that you get on our mailing list for any breaking news. Just go to the Contact page to sign up.
March 3, 2017
It's Kansas Music Hall of Fame time again! Tomorrow night at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, KS, the 2017 inductees will be given their awards and attendees will be treated to an evening of great live music from most of the inductees.
Congratulations to The Smart Brothers*, Samuel Ramey, Bill Bergman*, Elk River Biscuit and Gravy Band*, Allen Bell, Caribe, Trampled Under Foot* and Stone Wall*. (* = acts performing live).
Doors are at 6 PM and the ceremony begins at 7 PM.
January 1, 2017
Happy new year from Riverrock! We may have had New Years Eve off, but not the son of Riverrock original member, Jim Blanton. Jim's son, Jake Blanton, ended 2016 with a bang as he joined Paul McCartney on stage after he finished his gig as a member of the Killers. Word from Jake's sister, Emily Blanton, is that they were performing a rendition of "Helter Skelter" when this photo was shot. Maximum grooviness.
November 14, 2016
Congratulations to this year's inductees to the Missouri Music Hall of Fame! (2016)
Pat Metheny (Performer)
Paul Jacobson (Luthier, Non-Performer)
Conductor, Maestro Michael Stern (Musician)
Dr. Erwin Henry Schneider (Academics / Musicology)
The ceremony was held at the St. Joseph Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri. After the ceremony, Hall of Fame President, Anthony Glise, invited the guests to visit the wonderful exhibits in the museum, including the Missouri Music Hall of Fame room that has a time-line wall with historical facts and placards of the inductees since the first ones in 2010 over and above the time-line where they fit historically. Anthony Glise is also the curator of the MMHoF Museum space.
Congratulations also go to Larry Schildtknecht, President of the St. Joseph Music Foundation and to Michael Fuson, Vice-President of the Foundation, who's hard work throughout the years have made this exhibit possible.
One exciting sideline to all this for Riverrock fans is that the Foundation, who administers the Missouri Music Hall of Fame and Museum, has graciously included a copy of Riverrock's 1980 LP, “Midwest Man” in one of the glass cases. Riverrock has been nominated twice to the MMHoF and made the final ballot in 2015. It is indeed an honor to be included.
September 12, 2016
Riverrock returns to Knuckleheads for their annual party with special guests, Lakestock. Former lead singer for Riverrock and fellow Kansas Music Hall of Fame Inductee, Rick Harrelson will first open the show as a member of the new vocal quartet, Lakestock with his partners Steve and Tracey Mutter and Tracey's brother, Tim Umscheid. Rick will then join Riverrock for a short reunion featuring the best of the band's classic "Midwest Man" album. Come join in the fun at Kansas City's best concert venue and roadhouse, Knuckleheads Saloon!
July 24, 2016
Riverrock's Dan Smith was tapped for a guest appearance with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen this last Friday evening a Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City, Missouri.
The two have had a long, friendly relationship since John first sat in with Riverrock in 1974 at Huck Finn's in the old River Quay (River Market) in Kansas City, Missouri. Over the last four decades, John McEuen, who has always been the busiest of the Dirt Band members and frequents the Midwest as a solo artist or with assorted friends and family (especially with his sons, Jonathan and Nathan), has often invited Dan to join him on stage.
Dan has even been the source of some of the gigs in the past as a booking agent, including three appearances by John McEuen at the old Kansas City Spritit Festival in the 80's and 90's. John joined Blackwater (which then included Dan Smith and Paul Mumma of Riverrock along with Greg Camp, Valerie Stevens and band leader Perry Ware) on the first of those engagements. John's second Spirit Fest show was a main stage event with Riverrock and the Dixie Cadillacs. On his last Spirit gig, Dan booked John with Vassar Clements on the main stage and joined the band which included Jonathan McEuen and special guest Maria Muldaur.
John and Riverrock crossed paths a couple of times on the road in Colorado. Dan played drums and washboard with John and Vassar at Harvey's Wagon Wheel Casino in Central City (Jonathan McEuen played guitar).
John McEuen's guest performance on Riverrock's "Shuddup & Party!" CD (Kaw Point Records 2011) was the icing on the cake of the band's relationship with the String Wizzard of the NGDB. With John sounding great as ever at 70 and a good chance that he will be back in K.C. in the future, Dan and his partners in Riverrock could very well be sharing the stage with him in the years to come.
June 13, 2016
Musicians , music lovers and fans of St. Joe, tonight is the annual meeting of the St. Joseph Music Foundation. Get involved and help support the music scene in Western Missouri and also the Missouri Music Hall of Fame, that is administered by the Foundation. On tonight's agenda is Joe Stock 2016,. St. Joe's premier music festival. Check it out!
May 10, 2016
Riverrock has been submitted for consideration as a nominee to the Missouri Music Hall of Fame for 2016. We need your help on two levels. First, we need voting members of the Hall to support us. Please consider joining the MMHoF and become a voting member. Membership includes being a member of the St. Joseph Music Foundation that administers the MMHoF and the Hall's museum, located in St. Joseph, Missouri. Second, spread the word about the Foundation. Like any institution, it's legacy depends on financial support. The Foundation does a lot for the music scene in St. Joe, including their own radio station that can be listened to live streaming on the Web and they produce the annual JoeStock music festival that runs Labor Day Weekend.
Go to our Links page to find the Hall and the Foundation websites.
April 9, 2016
Welcome to the new Riverrock website! There is lots of new content (plus plenty of the best from the archives of the original site). The site has a new look and some new features. Be sure to check out every page.
Please use the CONTACT page to get on our email list or to get any info, list your concerns, make suggestions or just to keep in touch with the band.
New features, links and contents will be updated frequently, so we hope you will come back often and tell your friends!
April 6, 2016
Riverrock sadly says goodbye to country music great, Merle Haggard. It was also his 79th birthday, which is still too young to have to leave the world. He had a lot to do with the development of the Bakersfield sound with his story telling and memorable melodies that will be be played over and over again.
January 19, 2016
The votes have been cast. The board has met, and the results are in. The 2016 KMHoF Inductees are:
Billy Bob and the Belaires- Beloit; Sawdust Charlie, Wichita; Mark Selby (and The Sluggers)-Salina; South of the Tracks- Manhattan; Thumbs-Lawrence; Charlie & the Stingrays- KC….all of these acts will perform live at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, KS on March 5th
King Alex & the Untouchables- KC; Marva Whitney- KC; Roger Walls- Rose Hill; The Fabulous Apostles- Wichita
Dick & Jay (KY-102)- KC
Wayne Rouse- Manhattan
BOB HAPGOOD AWARD
Orin Friesen- Benton
Discount reservations for the weekend of March 5th available at Holiday Inn in Lawrence until 2/12/16. Mention the KMHoF rate.
See you all at Liberty Hall on 3/5/16,
November 7, 2015
Riverrock has lost one of its earliest supporters, advisors and friends. Sam Mumma, father of Riverrock's John and Paul Mumma, passed away yesterday at the age of 99. His skills as an attorney came in very handy for the band on several occasions. His sense of humor had us laughing frequently and made those early band meetings pleasurable. Riverrock performed a final private show for Sam, at his request, this last Sunday. As always, it was an honor and a pleasure. We will miss Sam and those "Sam Jams".
November 4, 2015
Riverrock will be the host band for the Bill Lee Memorial Concert at Liberfty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday, November 14 at 7 PM.
Bill Lee passed away late last month. He was the President Emeritus of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame, a music historian, radio programmer and full time supporter of musicians from the middle of the map.
There will be updates about other performers soon.
For those who cannot attend, your donations to help with the costs incurred in his final days can be made at: www.gofundme.com/misterlee
October 21, 2015
Due to an agreement with the management of Murray's Tables & Tap, Riverrock will not be performing there on Friday, October 23, 2015. Instead, they will have a special night of Royals Baseball as our boys in blue fight to be in the World Series.
September 22, 2015
Thanks to Rick Harrelson, our fans and the crew at Knuckleheads Saloon for a great night!
September 19, 2015
Tomorrow night is the night for Riverrock's Annual Knuckleheads Party with special guest, Rick Harrelson!
Don't miss this opportunity to hear music from Riverrock's Billboard Recommended 1980 LP, "Midwest Man" performed live with Rick's still fantastic voice.
Showtime is 7:30PM.
Kansas City MO 64120
September 6, 2015
Congratulations to the 2015 Missouri Music Hall of Fame inductees: Steve Walsh, Sheldon Concert Hall, Ernst Krohn, William Bay.
See more here: http://missourimusichalloffame.org/inductees.html#axzz3mC81IG4Z
Riverrock was honored to be nominated in the musician/band category this year.
Maybe next year will be our year!
August 28, 2015
We are happy to announce Riverrock's Annual Knuckleheads Party with special guest Rick Harrelson!
We had so much fun on Knuckleheads out door stage last year, we decided to do it EVERY year.
Save the Date! Sunday, September 20, 7:30 PM.
Click the Schedule page for more info and watch for updates.
May 22, 2015
Riverrock has made the official final ballot of the Missouri Music Hall of Fame for 2015!
Now we just need the votes!
Find out more about the Missouri Music Hall of Fame right here:
May 5, 2015
Summer is coming soon and Riverrock has some outdoor, family shows in the Midwest. Don't forget to check out the Schedule page for show dates.
The summer concert series in Blue Springs, Missouri will kick off our outdoor performances.
April 21, 2015
Since most Riverrock fans reside in the Kansas City area, we can assume that at least half of them are on the Missouri side. So, we'd like to acknowledge the St. Joseph Music Foundation that administers the Missouri Music Hall of Fame. It's a well run organization with a lot to offer the music scene all across the Show Me State.
Find out more at: http://www.stjosephmusicfoundation.org/
February 1, 2015
Congratulations to all the 2015 Kansas Music Hall of Fame Inductees:
Gary Winston Apple- Kansas City
The Benders- Wichita
Priscilla Bowman- Kansas City
Dan Crary- Kansas City
Dan Falley- Topeka
Liverpool- Kansas City
Lonnie Ray Band- Lawrence
Proto Kaw- Topeka
Craig Trenien- Topeka
Vic Damon- Kansas City
Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra- Kansas City
Bob Hapgood Award
Kenny Starr- Burlingame, KS
November 21, 2014
Riverrock is honored for being included in Deb Goodrich Bisel's new book on Kansas Music history. There's a great section on the Kansas Music Hall of Fame that includes Riverrock and Glow (KC). Dan Smith got to name drop his brothers Philip Lincoln Smith and Steven Conan Smith. There's also cool pictures of Riverrock. Donna Lee Daugherty and David H. Moore will owe Dan a spanking for spacing out their credits, because he's just not used to having his picture in a book (outside of mugshots). But, they will probably get credit in the eBook version and a second printing. Many thanks to both of them for being fans and photogs. Here's where you can order the book and edjumucate yourself about Kansas Music:
September 8, 2014
Thanks to my Riverrock partners, Allen Blasco, John Mumma, Paul Mumma and alumni, Steve Hall, Jim Blanton, Rick Harrelson, Scotty Yates, Joe Callahan and Frank Brown along with the Dixie Cadillacs for coming together to put on such a great show at Riverrock's 40th Anniversary/Reunion at Knuckleheads Saloon. And, thanks to all our fans for keeping the dream alive after 40 years!
August 10, 2014,
We are pleased to announce that Roger Carson, the morning drive host on 106.5 The Wolf, will be Master of Ceremonies at Riverrock's 40th Anniversary/Reunion show at Knuckleheads Saloon on Friday, September 5th.
July 28, 2014
Things are coming together for the 40th Anniversary/Reunion Show on September 5th at Knuckleheads Saloon. The award winning Dixie Cadillacs have been added as the opening act.
Formed in the mid-1980s, The Dixie Cadillacs are a popular and influential country-rock and honky tonk band in Kansas City. The indestructible Dennis Dressler, drummer and band leader of the Cadillacs, has kept the band rolling down the road in its many forms for decades and can boast some of the best road stories and brushes with fame that few bands can duplicate. Some of Kansas City's best musicians have played a part of the band's history, including Steve Covey, Phil Vandel, John Sage, Dan Doran, Kenny Tuna and X Factor winner, Tate Stevens.
Frank Brown of the Dixie Cadillacs is ready and excited to play as an opener and as a guest with Riverrock. He was a member of Riverrock a chunk of the 1990s and came to Kansas City in the early 1980s after a five-year stint in the Gilley's house band in Pasadena, Texas, where he backed every guest star they had (that's where they filmed "Urban Cowboy"). He's also the keyboard man on Riverrock's "Shuddup & Party!" CD. Frank was born blind, but plays keyboards and fiddle (as well as sings) like very few sighted musicians.
April 22, 2014
Just confirmed: Riverrock's 40th Anniversary/Reunion Show!
Come celebrate with Riverrock and former members including Rick Harrelson, Jim Blanton and Steve Hall! All members of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame! The date is Friday, September 5th at Knuckleheads Saloon. Check the Schedule page for details and watch for updates.
March 28, 2014
It's time to look ahead to spring and summer. Don't forget to check out our schedule page. We have shows at old favorites like, The Longbranch Steakhouse, Frank James Saloon, Isle of Capri, Ameristar, The Humboldt County Fair (IA), Stevens County Fair (KS) and Linden Square. Also, Riverrock returns (after many years) to Old Shawnee Days and we will also play the North Central Kansas Free Fair. There's also a new venue that we've added for several dates starting in April; Murray's Tables and Tap!
February 18, 2014
It's almost time for the Kansas Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony! Congratulations to this year's inductees; Beast, Bon Ton Soul Accordion Band, Junior Brown, Jimmy Dee & Fabulous Destinations, Glow, Clif Major, Sanctuary and the Wichita Linemen.
Glow's drummer, Phil Smith, is the "baby" brother to Riverrock drummer, Dan Smith. The ceremony and concert is at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Tickets for this year's show are on sale at Liberty Hall (no credit cards) or Ticketmaster. Tickets are $30. Ticketmaster has service charges.
October 14, 2013
Help Keep the Kansas Music Hall of Fame Going
In 2011, Riverrock was honored with being inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame. That same year, inductees included Charlie Parker, Count Basie, Chely Wright and the Rainmakers. In other years, the likes of Kansas, Brewer & Shipley, Mike Finnigan, Gene Clark (of The Byrds), Melissa Etheridge, Martine McBride, Marilyn Maye, Pat Metheny, Shooting Star, Oleta Adams and Bloodstone, along with dozens of regional acts that left a legacy of great music and great memories were inducted.
Membership to the KMHOF is only $25.00 per year and every member is eligible to vote for the nominees to be inducted for the year of membership. More importantly, membership helps with the expenses of maintaining the website, the weekly newsletter and promoting the annual induction ceremony, held in Lawrence, Kansas in late winter. It is hoped that one day, with enough membership support, a brick and mortar Hall will stand and house a museum of artifacts pertaining to the Hall of Fame Inductees and to preserve the legacy of talent that has graced or originated in Kansas and Eastern Missouri.
This year, I placed the Kansas City fusion/rock band, Glow, into nomination. Glow, was a “musician’s” band. Besides the band’s long standing gig at The Walrus Inn in K.C.’s Waldo area, where they attracted a very loyal following, including the city’s rock elite, Glow performed with Shooting Star, Alan Holdsworth and Missouri at venues like Memorial Hall, Parody Hall and the Uptown Theatre. Glow took first place in the KY-102 “Best of Home Tape” competition in 1983 with their song “Questions”. And, they were finalists in the Miller High Life “Rock-to-Riches” contest. Glow was also on KKCI’s “Moonshine II” LP with their song “Touch You Once More”. Their original music attracted the organizers of the 1984 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and Glow performed in front of enthusiastic audiences on two of the festival’s stages that summer. Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs sent a note to the band upon hearing them that said; “Glow – You guys are good. Keep playing and try to avoid the artistic pitfalls that identify the 80’s”.
I’m asking for your help with the Kansas Music Hall of Fame, for the future of the recognition of musical talent in our region and that you also take into consideration Glow and cast a vote for them. Please be aware that the ballots are mailed November 1st and voting ends on November 30th. So, please don’t delay.
For more information, go to http://www.ksmusichalloffame.org/ and check out Glow’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Glow-KC/270283503021681 and then scroll down past the year 2011 for a bundle of great music videos showing the wonderful sound this band made during their time.
- Dan Smith
September 4, 2013
Announcing: Jerry's Westport Country Playhouse Family Reunion at Knuckleheads Saloon on Friday, Octrober 11. Showtime is 6:30 PM.
Featured acts will be Fred Ermontrout, Fields, Riverrock, Denver Locke, The Jolly Brothers Band and special guests, New Medicine with Janet Jameson
April 26, 2013
The passing of George Jones was a flashback for those in Riverrock. In the summer of 1977, Riverrock was signed to the management of the Jim Halsey Company. They had names like the Oak Ridge Boys, Roy Clark, Mel Tillis, Freddy Fender and Hank Thompson in their stable. It was a very exciting time.
Riverrock was billed on Jim Halsey's Tulsa Opry for several shows, opening for names like Hank Williams, Jr., Minnie Pearl and The Oak Ridge Boys. One show headlined "No-Show George" Jones who, of course, didn't show. The Tulsa Opry shows were broadcast live on KVOO radio. There was no bigger agent/promoter than Jim Halsey at that time. Nobody could believe that George Jones would dare miss a gig like this. But, it happened. R.I.P. Possum.
April 23, 2013
Here's Riverrock posing at their display on April 21st. This is one of two Riverrock signs that were on the outside of Riverrock's Country Junction nightclub in Martin City in 1981. The glass case has articles about the River Quay entertainment district, where Riverrock was a house band at Huck Finn's from 1974 to 1975 and the case also has a bumper sticker from the Country Junction as well as a 45 RPM (single) of Riverrock with the song's "Come On In" and "Pine Mountain Railway" from 1977. — at Kansas City's Union Station in the "We Want To Rock!" gallery at the entrance to the "Science of Rock & Roll" exhibit. (Photo by Michael D. Rutherford)
January 11, 2013
Riverrock congratulates fellow KC area musician, Tate Stevens, on winning the X-Factor last month. Tate, of Belton, Missouri, is a former member of the Dixie Cadillacs and has shared the stage with Riverrock on several occasions. The photo is from a New Year's Eve show in 1995 when Riverrock and the Dixie Cadillacs were billed together. In the photo is Kenny "Tuna" Crouch, Tate Stevens and Riverrock's Dan Smith on the Washboard.
November 19, 2012
Come see the latest exhibit at the Union Station. Riverrock is featured at the entrance to the exhibit as part of the Kansas City section, "We Want to Rock", which also includes the original mirror ball from the Cowtown Ballroom. This is the world premier of The Science of Rock & Roll. It will blow your mind!
July 21, 2012
Members of Riverrock were treated to a special night at Knuckleheads Saloon in KC on July 18 when Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen and his sons Jonathan and Nathan, promoting their new CD "The McEuen Sessions", tapped talent and gear from Riverrock. Jonathan used Paul Mumma's Telecaster guitar and Allen Blasco's Music Man amp and Dan Smith sat in on his washboard. (photo by Peggy Stevinson Bair)
May 21, 2012
Bureman & O'Rourke's new CD, "Shoulder to Shoulder" is out. Guest musician's include Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley ("One Toke Over the Line" fame) as well as Riverrock's John Mumma, Paul Mumma and Allen Blasco. The project was recorded primarily at Dan Smith Agency Recording Studio and also at Down Home Studio and the homes of Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley.
March 29, 2012
Riverrock mourns the loss of bluegrass patriarch, Earl Scruggs, who died March 28 in Nashville, Tennessee. Following is a post by Riverrock member, Dan Smith, on the Earl Scruggs memorial website:
I only met Earl once at a show in Kansas City with the Earl Scruggs Review. His influence on my band, Riverrock, is immeasurable. His legacy is not only his masterful body of work and the launching of thousands banjo playing careers, he also passed on his musical talents to his sons.
Riverrock was graced by his son Randy's many talents in the recording studio many years ago and that memory is still sweet in our minds.
~ Daniel Smith, Raytown, Missouri
Editor's note: The fall and winter of 2011 was filled with posts of reviews of Riverrock's CD, "Shuddup & Party!" CD. The best of the reviews now appear on the Discography Page.
September 12, 2011
Our appologies for the long break on the News page. Much has been going on that has kept us away from the website. After Linda Smith passed away (wife of drummer Dan Smith), our good friend Donna Daugherty offered to step in for awhile and make some changes to the website. She did a great job with the home page and a few others, but she had to get back to her family and her work. So, it will take a little while to get back into the swing of things.
July 19, 2011
Shuddup & Party! (Yeah, that's right)
Riverrock's first full album in over thirty years arrives at headquarters today!
It can be purchased by just clicking the icon at the top of the page.
This was years in the making. It spanned two cities (Kansas City and Raytown). The band picked, grinned, yelled, sang and jammed (with occasional bathroom breaks). And FINALLY, they have produced their masterpiece; "Shuddup & Party!"
There are eight original songs written by each of the band members and four "covers" that have been favorites at the band's shows. And, just like the live sets, there's funny, serious, fast, slow, rock, bluegrass, country, funk, Irish...Hey, it's Riverrock!
June 19, 2011
Riverrock mourns the loss of Linda Smith, wife of drummer, Dan Smith. Linda made many of the shows special by her planning and supported Riverrock for 30 years assisting Dan at music and fair conventions, designing promotional material, building his recording studio and just plain being there in her famous, groovy way.
May 19, 2011
Riverrock has been a bunch of busy beavers in Dan Smith's Recording Studio. We have a half dozen tracks ready for the new album and they sound WAY groovy (yeah, we're old so we're still "groovy").
A few of the songs have some guest musicians, like Jeff Elsloo of the Retro Rangers, Frank Brown, of the Dixie Cadillacs (and former member of Riverrock) and...wait for it...John McEuen, the String Wizard of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band!
There will be lots of original music and a few choice "covers" that have that "Riverrock Touch" in the arrangements.
Editor's Note: See the video of Riverrock's acceptance speech from March 5, 2011 and read the script of the speech on the Video/Music Page
February 27, 2011
This is the BIG week! On Friday, Riverrock will join in on the “unplugged” show at Paddy O’Quigleys at the Holiday Inn in Lawrence, Kansas as the kick-off for the Kansas Music Hall of Fame induction weekend for the Class of 2011.
Saturday night at Liberty Hall, Riverrock will be inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame and then will perform in the official Hall of Fame Concert.
Be a part of Kansas music history and get your tickets for the Induction Ceremony and Concert on Saturday (the Friday jam is free).
November 8, 2010
We are proud to announce that Riverrock will be a 2011 Inductee into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame! Thanks to all our fans and supporters who joined the Hall or were already members who voted for us.
September 21, 2010
My second ride with John McEuen
By Dan Smith
I’ve had several occasions to play music with John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. I’ve even blogged about a couple of them (see below). One of my all time favorites was when John McEuen and Vassar Clements were booked into Harvey’s Wagon Wheel Casino in Central City, Colorado in 1996. The promoter asked John who he would recommend as a band for the week his gig was booked, and he told him to try Riverrock from Kansas City.
Now were to be off the Friday of John’s gig, so John came in a night early and sat in for a set with us, treating the audience to a preview of the big night. I figured John might ask for me to stick around for some washboard work on the Friday show. But, I was surprised that he would ask for me to work the gig as his drummer for some of the set. John brought along a guitarist, a bass player and his very talented son, Jonathan, on electric guitar. Vassar, of course, had met me before and remembered when he recorded on our “Midwest Man” album in 1980 down in Nashville. But, that was a day of overdubs, and we (Riverrock) had already finished with our tracks. This time I’d be live, in concert, with two of my biggest music heroes.
I can tell you that I was a nervous drummer, never quite feeling my groove that night. My washboard was another story. That was the best I had ever played. Even Vassar had a big smile on his face after my solos. I think John, who had worked with me before, expected nothing less. It was a night to remember.
This last Sunday may have topped even that night. The John McEuen Trio performed at Kansas City’s famous Knuckleheads Saloon. John’s partners, guitarist/singer Matt Cartsonis and fiddler Craig Eastman, from California, are much in demand for recording sessions out west, and both make a pretty good living working on sound tracks for some of Hollywood’s biggest movies and TV shows.
After I arrived at Knuckleheads, we did a sound check for the show and then one of my dreams came true when John agreed to sneak up to my little recording studio for about forty minutes to drop some “sweetening” tracks on a couple of my songs that will be part of the new Riverrock album. I mean, I produced a session with a legend. This guy produced “The Crow” for his old friend, Steve Martin, for goodness sake, let alone the fact that he has spent thousands of hours in a recording studio with some of the best producers in the business himself.
I was fortified with pure energy and confidence when we went back down to the club. I didn’t lie to John when I told him my studio was only five minutes from Knuckleheads. But, he insisted that I didn’t try to make it four minutes. John broke one of his Cardinal rules; “never leave the venue once you have arrived”. I appreciate his making an exception. It was a ride I’ll never forget.
But the story doesn’t end there. John’s love for Kansas City audiences goes back to the Vanguard and Cowtown Ballroom days with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Many veterans of those classic venues were in attendance for one of the best acoustic sets I’ve heard in years. John was funny, personable and in top form on every instrument (he ain’t called the String Wizard for nothin’, ya know). Matt Cartsonis was a hit as a story teller and musician, but his vocals raised the roof. Let me just say that I’ve felt a personal loss since the passing of Vassar Clements. After hearing Craig Eastman, I have a new fiddle hero. That guy can do it all. And, I had the best seat in the house; on stage with these music monsters and my washboard. What a thrill.
September 2, 2010
Check out the review of the “Midwest Man 30th Anniversary Edition” CD in the September Village Records Newsletter:
RIVERROCK - MIDWEST MAN 30TH ANNIV. EDITION
This Midwest band from the seventies was all the rage for a while and this Nashville produced recording was legendary in its day. The group has recently reformed and their first project was to get this “lost” classic out on disc, and with a bonus cut to boot. Fans of country rock done right will find more than enough to feast on here. With an assist from Randy Scruggs and Vassar Clements the band came up with the perfect album for its era. The only problem was that in 1980 there was no internet and not a lot of avenues to get their music to the masses. One listen to this and you’ll wonder what other classics are out there that you haven’t heard.
October 5, 2009
My Ride with John McEuen
By Dan Smith
On one of the gigs I did with John McEuen back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I had the rare opportunity to pick him up at the airport north of Kansas City and drive him to the show at Lodge of the Four Seasons at Lake of the Ozarks. It’s about a six or seven hour round trip. We rode the three plus hours down there while we talked about music, gigging, gear and road stories. John sat in the passenger seat holding a mandolin the entire ride. Sometimes, he would pick a little tune, maybe something he was working on, and ask me what I thought. Or maybe he would tell a joke, using the mandolin as musical background or to deliver the punch line. It was like one of those Elvis Costello interview/jams on the Sundance Channel, only in a Toyota Corolla Station Wagon.
I learned more about the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, especially the early years, than I ever hoped to know. And, since he met me originally on a Riverrock gig, he asked how we got started. I told him that Ringo Starr and the Beatles were the reason I became a drummer. Poco was the reason I wanted to play country rock. But, the Dirt Band was the template for Riverrock.
Jim Blanton and I worked for the same inventory company for a couple of years. When we became friends and began to talk music, I confessed to liking country music (before it was cool) and found out the both of us were big Dirt Band fans. Then he told me his roommate, John Mumma, played the banjo and John’s little brother Paul was a flat picker. And then he said he played a little fiddle and mandolin. Well, after a year of getting to know these guys, we grabbed the sound man, Steve Hall, from the band I was in then and taught him the bass guitar. Riverrock was born.
Now, I’ve already written about how John McEuen met Riverrock (see “The Night the String Wizard Sat In”). Why all this is apropos is simple. John has invited me to join him on my trusty washboard when he performs at the Farris Theater in Richmond Missouri on October 17. I can hardly think of a better way to spend a Saturday night than to share the stage with John McEuen. And, since Riverrock is off that night, I plan to be ready in the wings for when he calls me out to perform.
August 16, 2009
The Kansas City Star Magazine August 16, 2009
by Dan Smith
The night the String Wizard sat in
T here have been many defining moments on my road to being a professional musician. Among them are when I went to see the Beatles with my brother Mark; my father, Jack, taking me to buy my first drum kit on my 15th birthday; watching the Who perform at a dance at my high school, Shawnee Mission South; and the night John McEuen came to hear Riverrock.
Jim Blanton, Steve Hall, John and Paul Mumma and I were the original members of Riverrock. One Friday evening late in 1974, we were playing our house gig at Huck Finn’s in the old River Quay. Only a handful of people braved an ice storm to see us that night.
In the middle of one of our bluegrass and country rock sets, the String Wizard of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John McEuen, waltzed in unannounced. We were surprised and quite nervous as he sat to listen to us attempt renditions of music right from his band’s songbook.
He approached the stage to inquire about Jim’s fiddle. It resembled one that his friend Vassar Clements used. Jim bravely invited him up to play it and, egged on by the small crowd, he jumped right up and finished the night out playing on everything we knew.
Afterward, the jam session moved to John’s south KC digs, where we picked and swapped stories until dawn.
In the next 35 years, Riverrock would go through many changes and open shows for dozens of country music’s biggest stars. Our third album, “Midwest Man,” with our new singer, Rick Harrelson, and featuring Vassar Clements and Randy Scruggs, would be a Billboard “recommended LP.” I even developed a friendly relationship with John McEuen and on several occasions would sit in with my trusty washboard on gigs I booked for him when he wasn’t on the road with the Dirt Band.
These days, I spend my time helping the next generation follow their dreams in my recording studio. And I’m back with my old friends John and Paul Mumma in the latest version of Riverrock with our new frontman, Allen Blasco.
Sometimes, after a long day of hip-hop artists or young rock bands down in my studio, I pop in a copy of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” think about that cold night in 1974 and get a warm feeling.
August 8, 2009
Madam President: Janet Smith
Two friends and neighbors lost their mothers this last week. This caused me to reflect on what a loss that is. My mother, Janet, died almost twenty-five years ago. My father, Jack, found a wonderful woman, Mary, who has given him a second chance at happiness. And, all of us in the family have found our way without her, in spite of the pain.
Janet would have been eighty-seven on August 1st (my dad will be eighty-seven on August 14th, yes, she was a cougar). And, everyone in my family, as well as most of the old-time Riverrock fans, will remember that she was the band’s first manager. When we incorporated, we made her president. No one gave more of their time to the cause of promoting Riverrock than my mother. She was our biggest fan.
But, first and foremost, she was a great mother. She raised six children with my father. She suffered the loss of my sister, Kathleen in 1968 and never lost the strength to carry on and support my brothers and sister. Janet would have enjoyed this last quarter century. Indeed, she would be proud of my siblings, Mark, Steve, Phil and Margaret. They have accomplished so much in these last twenty-five years.
But, like everything else, she missed me on TV this week. She won’t be here to read my article about the band in Sunday’s paper. I won’t get the call waking me up early in the morning telling me how great a week this was for me. So, I’m dedicating this week of success to the one person (other than my wife Linda) who would be most proud of me, whether I deserve it or not. I miss you Madam President.
John McEuen and Dan Smith in the Gospel Lounge of Knuckleheads Saloon July 22, 2016
Nathan McEuen, Dan Smith, John McEuen and Jonathan McEuen, Knuckleheads Saloon 2012.
Bureman & O'Rourke "Shoulder to Shoulder" CD
Newspaper ad with George Jones at the Tulsa Opry in 1977. Riverrock was billed as an opener.
Janet Smith with Riverrock on her birthday, 1975.
John McEuen Trio - Knuckleheads Saloon, K.C. MO September 2010 (l-r) Craig Eastman, (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's) John McEuen, (Riverrock's) Dan Smith & Matt Cartsonis. (See video on Video/Music Page)
Photo by Dan Smith
Photo by Andy Collier
The author (left) sitting in on the washboard with John McEuen at the old Parody Hall in KC in 1988
Sam Mumma and John Mumma 2009
Photo by Caleb White
Photo by Michael D. Rutherford
Photo by Tom Hartnett
Photo by Peggy Stevinson Bair
Paul McCartney and Jake Blanton 12-31-2016
The back cover of Riverrock's "Midwest Man" LP in a glass case at the Missouri Music Hall of Fame Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri
Photo by Linda Smith
Riverrock in Union Station, K.C. MO at the "We Want to Rock" exhibit.
Linda Smith with John McEuen at Dan Smith Agency Recording Studio, September 19, 2010
Midwest Man 30th Anniversary Edition
CD cover art - 2010 (Original art by Ann Willoughby)
Missouri Music Hall of Fame sign outside the MMHoF exhibit at the St. Joseph Museum
Photo by Dan Smith
Kenny "Tuna" Crouch, Tate Stevens and Dan Smith, New Year's Eve 1995.
Photo by Dan Smith